Dealing with procrastination: We’ve all been there, panicking, anxiety rising, working at the last minute over the project that wasn’t completed, avoiding the bill that wasn’t paid, or putting off that new workout routine you’ve been meaning to start. Instead of getting a jump on it, you find yourself checking Facebook, scrolling through Instagram, cleaning the kitchen (because it HAD to be done now obviously), or watching your favorite TV program. Procrastination affects many individuals and it can become a debilitating problem causing high levels of anxiety, that can interfere with not only productivity, but also life. If you’re a chronic procrastinator, or just looking for ways to beat the temptation to procrastinate this article will go over useful tips on dealing with procrastination.
Procrastination plain and simple is the avoidance of any task. This could be due to the large amount of time and effort that will go into it, having a lot of tasks to do, emotional disturbance (e.g. depression, anxiety, ect.), or just anxiety on getting the task done. Whatever the cause may be, the more one procrastinate often the more one becomes frustrated at the task and continues to avoid doing it. This can often result in missed projects, lousy products, pressured/panicked work, and a perpetual state of anxiety. So how does one deal with procrastination? The first step is to identify that you’re procrastinating. Now this may sound a bit silly, but we are all familiar with the avoidant ways:
- Trying to start a big project, but making coffee instead
- Browsing the web for a bit, because one more Buzzfeed video wouldn’t hurt, right?
- Going through all your unread e-mails before starting any task
- Filling your day with easy tasks to accomplish than putting anything important (e.g. cleaning the kitchen vs. working on a project)
Whatever the excuse might be it’s important to stop yourself and ask: am I procrastinating right now? If so the next step is to examine: well if I’m procrastinating right now, why the hell am I doing this? As mentioned before many people have a variety of reasons why they are avoiding a task. It may be because it’s super boring and monotonous, or on the other hand it can be very emotionally or intellectually overwhelming and require a lot of time and effort. It could be that you might be somewhat disorganized and have trouble keeping to a schedule or one task. Take some time to think about what may be causing you to currently be procrastinating or what causes you to procrastinate. Write your answers down and look them over. Is there a theme? Do certain tasks cause you to shutdown and procrastinate? Or do you find that you’re procrastinating in every part of your life?
Once you have gone through and come to understand why you procrastinate, the last step is to deal with the procrastination. There are many ways to go about dealing with procrastination. Listed below are a couple different ways. If you find that one doesn’t work, try another. You can even mix and match ones to work in tandem! Here are the ways:
- One of the first and most important things to do is: PRIORITIZE! Put all the tasks you have on to a list and organize them from things that need to be done immediately, things that should be done soon, but can wait; things that can wait to be done, and lastly things that you’d like to do, but aren’t super important.
- Once you have organized your tasks, make a TO-DO LIST. Fill your day with high priority tasks. You can pepper in some low priority things to give yourself a break, but make sure more time and focus is devoted to. Be liberal with the amount of time it will take you to do things. You may think you can accomplish something in an hour, when it may actually take you two. Note of caution: it’s possible to take so long constructing the perfect to-do list that you don’t have enough to actually DO the task.
- Adopt the mantra: EVERYTHING WILL GET DONE. Often when we feel overwhelmed we see everything in a blown out-of-proportion way and may feel like we can’t do anything. Adopting the mantra of everything will get done, puts things into a more realistic an understanding perspective.
- BREAKDOWN the task at hand. If it’s something large, portioning off the project into smaller bits makes it easier to accomplish. Just think: you can’t eat a whole steak in just one bite. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do. You can set breaks after you have finished one part or set small goals for yourself.
- Speaking of goals, SET GOALS! Knowing there is light at the end of the tunnel can help you power through any project. Focus on the success and great feelings you will have once the task is accomplished. Feel free to BARGAIN with yourself and set small tasks and rewards for accomplishing each task for example: if I study for the next 30mins, I can aimlessly scroll through Facebook for 10min.
- Part of setting goals is also making DEADLINES. Setting an end for yourself can help you buckle down and make sure that you finish the task in a timely manor. Have your friends or co-workers check in with you; they can help to make sure you’re staying on task.
- Surrounding yourself with productive people will also help with productivity. You also may need a change in environment to a place where there will be less distractions and that will help increase your productivity. This may be a coffee shop, library, or somewhere outside. Make sure to TURN-OFF any distractions (e.g. text message reminder, music, ect.). Yes your best friend may text you with the juiciest gossip or your favorite sports team might have just won a game, but all of that will be there once you have finished your task.
- Last but not least: REWARD YOURSELF! As my favorite line goes “treat yo’ self!”. After all your hard work, make sure to reward for a job well done. It may have been a tough and difficult road, but at least it’s over!
Dealing with procrastination can take some time, but by the end of it the reward will be worth it. Identifying why you procrastinate and implementing the strategies above can help work against procrastination. Jump into a task and get the ball rolling to help unravel the procrastination that you’re used to. However, if you are finding it difficult in dealing with your procrastination or are dealing with an emotional disturbance then feel free to make an appointment with the Center for Growth/Sex Therapy in Philadelphia. We can help you identify, understand, and work against what may be holding you back.